“Planning for Family Unity,” Ensign, Feb. 2003, 72–73
Over 100 years ago, my great-great-grandfather Ezra Thompson Clark organized a family association to help his descendants plan family reunions and preserve the family’s history. Today the association continues to unite our extended family, as evidenced by the 400-plus attendance at a recent reunion. Focusing on four key areas, the association’s simple outline has withstood the test of time and can serve as an effective model for organizing family associations today.
Testimony. At the first official family gathering, my great-great-grandfather bore his testimony of the gospel and had it written down so, as he put it, “my children and my children’s children may know.” His full testimony has been read at every family reunion since 1901.
Family standards. At the end of that first gathering, my great-great-grandfather encouraged family members to cultivate their own personal testimonies, be charitable and honorable, and teach the children well. This advice was also written down and has been shared at our family reunions.
Organizational structure and written instructions. Ezra carefully outlined an organizational structure—a president, an executive committee, and a secretary/registrar for keeping the family records. Specific family members were then assigned to these roles, and written instructions were provided for replacing these positions and for scheduling family reunions.
Funding. Ezra left money in his will to be used as a genealogical fund and to support the association. In recent times, the organization has also sought family contributions to cover expenses.
For generations, many family members, including my immediate family, have been involved in the association. I now serve as president, and my involvement in the association has deepened my appreciation for the blessing of eternal families. Because of the unity my family feels with extended family, we have a heightened gratitude for our forebears—a kinship we share largely because of my great-great-grandfather’s foresight over a century ago.
Carol L. Clark, Little Cottonwood First Ward, Salt Lake Little Cottonwood Stake